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Masters of the Planet: The Search for Our…
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Masters of the Planet: The Search for Our Human Origins (2012)

by Ian Tattersall

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
1353088,991 (4.19)23
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  1. 10
    The Ascent of Man by Jacob Bronowski (John_Vaughan)
  2. 10
    On the Origin of Species by Charles Darwin (John_Vaughan)
  3. 00
    Prehistoric Europe, from stone age man to the early Greeks by Philip Van Doren Stern (RChurch)
    RChurch: Paleolithic Art and cave paintings of Lascaux and Altamira
  4. 00
    40 Days and 40 Nights: Darwin, Intelligent Design, God, Oxycontin, and Other Oddities on Trial in Pennsylvania by Matthew Chapman (John_Vaughan)
  5. 00
    The Songlines by Bruce Chatwin (elenchus)
    elenchus: There is an intriguing overlap between Chatwin's thesis that human's have a nomadic instinct linked to our early history as prey to the big cats; and Tattersall's exploration of just when hominids moved out of forested areas and into the open edge areas and grasslands, and what implications that had for our diet, behaviors, group organization, and brain development. Each book focuses on other themes, but this overlap is moderately important to each and reinforces one another in useful ways.… (more)
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English (29)  Spanish (1)  All languages (30)
Showing 1-5 of 29 (next | show all)
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Human evolution and the origin of our specific species is one of those subjects which deserves an excellent author capable of presenting a complex and fascinating narrative for a non-scientific audience. Tattersall delivers this excellent summation of our current knowledge of those subjects in Masters of the Planet.

I read a lot of popular biology, evolution, and anthropology, and had a solid foundation from which to work when I read Masters of the Planet, but I was thrilled to find Tattersall's narrative very well constructed and the information he provided was easily digestible without losing the most interesting and complicated ideas. MotP is very recommended for anyone with an interest in the subject of the origins of our species.
  IslandDave | Nov 5, 2014 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Masters of the Planet is a well written account of the current state of paleoanthropology. Covering ground from the origins of the earliest hominids to the expression of language and use of abstract thinking, Dr. Tattersall tells a riveting story.
I must confess that much of what I took for accepted facts about human evolution were ripped apart in the space of two hundred pages.
I think this is one of those books that can spin you around and knock a new point of view into your head.

Read and be enlightened. ( )
  RChurch | Mar 29, 2014 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
A little book that packs a big wallop, this work by Tattersall, a curator emeritus at the Museum of Natural History in New York, relates the state of our knowledge about the evolution of humans. Hint for the perplexed: It's true. Tattersall's conclusion is that the answer to the question "Where does humanity begin?" is at the point where language entered the equation - rather than bipedality, tool-making, or some other characteristic. ( )
  waitingtoderail | Mar 3, 2014 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Review of latest in early human paleontology, with emphasis on determining what factors drove human development toward increased intelligence and symbol using.
  ritaer | Oct 4, 2013 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
'Masters of the Planet' provides a very readable account of the search for the beginings of mankind. Using fossil and anthropological evidence Tattersall presents a time-lapse photographic view of human development. ( )
  LamSon | Oct 3, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 29 (next | show all)
Tattersall, curator emeritus at the American Museum of Natural History, begins with early hominids, who took the first step away from apedom about 5 million years ago by rising to walk on two legs. In absorbing detail, he describes two centuries of often-grueling field research that turned up more species that learned to make tools and whose brains slowly grew.
added by John_Vaughan | editDallas News, Kirkus (Apr 1, 2012)
 

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Ian Tattersallprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Rotstein, David BaldeosinghCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Another set of molecular studies has concluded not only that the founding population [of humans] was African, but that it was very small. It turns out that, for all the structured DNA variety we find in human populations, this variety is not very impressive when we compare it to what we see in other species, even close relatives. A single population of chimpanzees in West Africa, for example, is said to show more diversity in its mtDNA than the entire human species does today. This can mean one of two things, or both: that our species itself has a recent origin, hence has not had a very long time in which to diversity; or that the founding population was very small. In the event, both of these factors appear to have played a role. Homo sapiens seems to have separated from its (now extinct) closest relative only about a tenth as long ago as the two surviving chimpanzee species appear to have split.  ... But that's not all. Close analysis of the way in which human DNA variants are distributed today also reveals a pattern strongly suggesting that the ancient human population passed through one or more bottlenecks, or severe contractions, over the course of the late Pleistocene. The most significant of these bottlenecks plausibly occurred around the time at which both archaeological and paleontological indicators imply that people who were both anatomically and intellectually modern first left Africa, ultimately to populate the world. [194]
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 023010875X, Hardcover)

50,000 years ago – merely a blip in evolutionary time – our Homo sapiens ancestors were competing for existence with several other human species, just as their own precursors had been doing for millions of years. Yet something about our species separated it from the pack, and led to its survival while the rest became extinct.  So just what was it that allowed Homo sapiens to become Masters of the Planet?   Curator Emeritus at the American Museum of Natural History, Ian Tattersall takes us deep into the fossil record to uncover what made humans so special.  Surveying a vast field from initial bipedality to language and intelligence, Tattersall argues that Homo sapiens acquired a winning combination of traits that was not the result of long term evolutionary refinement. Instead it emerged quickly, shocking their world and changing it forever.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 14:02:53 -0400)

"When homo sapiens made their entrance 100,000 years ago they were confronted by a wide range of other early humans--homo erectus, who walked better and used fire; homo habilis who used tools; and of course the Neanderthals, who were brawny and strong. But shortly after their arrival, something happened that vaulted the species forward and made them the indisputable masters of the planet. This book is devoted to revealing just what that difference is. It explores how the physical traits and cognitive ability of homo sapiens distanced them from the rest of nature. Even more importantly, Masters of the Planet looks at how our early ancestors acquired these superior abilities; it shows that their strange and unprecedented mental facility is not, as most of us were taught, simply a basic competence that was refined over unimaginable eons by natural selection. Instead, it is an emergent capacity that was acquired quite recently and changed the world definitively"--… (more)

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